Since ancient times, a multitude of mysterious phenomena have existed in the world, ranging from ghosts to yokai to prophecies of world destruction.
People have long harbored a fear of the unknown, wary of anything that existed beyond the boundaries of common sense.
This fear was so pervasive that it extended to blood relatives, family members, and even children, leading people to exclude and shun those outside of their understanding.
I came to know that there were cruel and brutal people in the world.
Why do I have to go through this, even though I didn’t choose to become an outcast?
However, despite thinking that the world was just cruel, there was still a glimmer of hope.
My elder sister and two younger sisters were with me.
They were the only family and presence that I could believe in and stay together with.
I couldn’t trust the world or the people around me.
I couldn’t even show them my back.
The only ones I could trust enough to show them my back were my sisters.
No matter the circumstances, as long as we were together, the four of us, I knew I would be okay.
Even when it was cold and scary, even when I was hungry, and even when I saw other kids holding hands with their parents, it didn’t bother me.
Of course, there was a part of me that felt lonely, jealous, envious, and resentful.
But I could endure it and put on a brave front.
For a long time, I constantly reminded myself that despite growing up in the worst environment, I was still fortunate to have my sisters by my side.
Despite my parents being terrible and everything else in the world seeming to be against me, I trusted my sisters, and that was enough to make me happy.
That was how I thought for a long time, until one day, everything changed.
My parents died in a car accident.
It was sudden and unexpected.
Most kids would have felt something—sadness, loss, or despair.
But I didn’t feel anything strange.
I just thought, “Oh, is that so?” and accepted it as a fact.
It wasn’t just me who felt that way.
I’m sure my sisters felt the same.
We were more concerned about who would take us in than anything else.
It wasn’t until the funeral that we found out our parents had been badmouthing us to our relatives.
You could tell by the way they looked at us.
The whole world felt like it was against us.
The thought of being taken in by anyone here was the worst thing imaginable.
The voices around us seemed to be saying it out loud, as if we could hear their thoughts.
I couldn’t stop feeling frustrated, but more than that, I was terrified by those stares.
I hid behind my older sister and Chifuyu, feeling like I wanted to disappear.
It was at that moment, when we had been receiving those rude stares for a while, that we met a man.
He was an unusual man I had never seen before, and he said he wanted to take us in.
I didn’t understand it.
I just thought that way.
Was he one of the man’s subordinates? Why did Haru say she wanted to go with him? There were endless questions in my mind, but our new life started without them being answered.
Even though the environment in his place was favorable, I still couldn’t trust it.
I thought my sisters felt the same, but it turned out that they were able to trust others more easily.
It was just me who couldn’t trust anyone, and that made me both confused and scared.
I felt a sense of alienation.
The fear that I might be a strange, abnormal being that was out of place in my surroundings crept up on me.
I couldn’t feel anything when my parents died.
And when I bathed in the light of the full moon…my appearance seemed to transcend human understanding.
I couldn’t trust anyone.
I heard that monsters cannot understand human hearts and that they often take on an unusual appearance.
I began to think that I might be one of them.
I even started to doubt whether I could trust my own sisters.
As time went on, I began to feel like an outcast, and that feeling of alienation only grew stronger.
I was so scared that I couldn’t help but think that I was getting closer and closer to that kind of existence.
It was an overwhelming feeling, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
All I could do was wish that such a day would never come for me.
Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve had more opportunities to engage in conversations with Chifuyu.
Chiaki also seemed to be more affectionate toward me than before.
While Chiharu still seemed to be a bit of a sis-con, I felt like we were able to have more meaningful conversations than in the past.
It’s been almost four months since the Hitsuji sisters arrived at my house, and with each passing day, our interactions have grown more frequent and lively.
It’s a wonderful feeling, though I still find it challenging to communicate with Chinatsu.
Despite my efforts to talk to her every day, her responses often leave something to be desired.
Constantly feeling anxious was definitely both exhausting and stressful, and it could negatively impact her well-being.
With Christmas right around the corner, I was determined to create a memorable and extravagant celebration for everyone.
I wanted to provide them with an unforgettable experience, but I was uncertain about the best approach to take.
I had reservations about getting too involved with Chinatsu.
She had experienced a traumatic incident in which her own parents had attempted to stab her with a kitchen knife, making it difficult for her to trust anyone other than her sisters.
At first, I had thought it would be best to take things slow, but after seeing her interact with others besides myself, I began to feel uncertain.
I had noticed Chinatsu looking sad on multiple occasions recently….and I couldn’t help but want to do something to help her….
Furthermore, she was struggling with her own supernatural abilities.
Whenever she was bathed in the light of a full moon, her body would grow to become adult sized.
Her eyes would change from blue to red, and her teeth would become slightly sharper.
This caused her to ponder her own humanity, which was one of the events in the game.
I knew all of that.
But what could I do? In the game, the protagonist would increase their favorability through events and gain the trust of the character without any incorrect answers, causing the character to see only the protagonist in her eyes.
That was how the character would progress.
When playing the game, at first, Chinatsu would make a disgusted face or reject my attempts to talk to her, but as my favorability increased, she began to slowly soften her tone.
I know all of that.
But the one who can do that is the protagonist.
I’m not the protagonist.
While I may possess the knowledge, unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily equate to having the ability to resolve the issue at hand.
Is the correct answer to tell her to trust me, since I trust her? No, that’s not it.
Is the correct answer to reassure her by reminding the girl that she is just as human as anyone else? But I fear that this is meaningless.
After all, if gaining her trust were that easy, Chinatsu wouldn’t be struggling like this.
It was frustrating to know what needed to be done yet be powerless to make it happen.
“Hey, are you okay? We’re in the middle of work?” my coworker Sasaki asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,”
“Is something bothering you?”
“I’m just wondering how to earn someone’s trust,”
“Maybe try getting them a gift or something?”
“It’s not that kind of situation,”
Asking for advice on personal matters during work probably wasn’t the most rational decision, but I couldn’t help it.
Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder.
It was Miyamoto-san.
“What’s going on? If you have any troubles, feel free to talk about it,” Miyamoto-san said.
“Well, there’s a lot on my mind.
But for now, I’m struggling to build trust with this child named Chinatsu.
How can I earn the girl’s trust?”
“…Hmm, there are many ways to go about it…Perhaps doing something drastic that really stands out to her? Something that makes a dramatic impact on her specifically,” Miyamoto-san suggested.
But what kind of dramatic thing could I do to earn Chinatsu’s trust?
“Also, sometimes you just have to wait for time to pass,” Miyamoto-san continued.
“Is there no way to speed things up?”
Time is a powerful force.
People grow, and trust is built slowly over time.
When someone trusts another person, it’s often not because of something dramatic.
It’s built up through spending time together, talking, playing, and just being around each other.”
That makes sense.”
Chiaki and Chifuyu had a dramatic incident that brought them closer to me, but earning someone’s trust isn’t usually that easy.
It’s much harder than one might imagine.
“My daughter went through a rebellious phase too, but if you approach things with sincerity and honesty, one day you’ll eventually earn their trust.
You can also say things that resonate with them.
That’s what I learned as a parent.”
If I approach things with sincerity and honesty, one day… that’s right, in the game, it started in the first year of high school and ended with the graduation ceremony in the third year.
But thinking of it now, using a game as a standard is foolish.
I learned that during Chifuyu’s time.
Things that shouldn’t happen in reality can happen in games.
Those kids changed as they interacted with me.
Even if I knew, I probably wouldn’t be able to solve Chinatsu’s troubles or gain her trust.
It’s difficult to do so.
This is reality, not a game.
But that doesn’t give me a reason to give up on facing Chinatsu.
There’s not much time left until Christmas.
I’ll cherish the moments of facing Chinatsu and… no, all of the four girls, even if it’s just a little.
As I checked the time, it was already the end of the workday.
I needed to go home.
“Thank you so much, Miyamoto-san.
I feel like something has changed in my thinking, and I feel motivated to do my best,”
“I’m glad to hear that,”
“Oh, what about me?” Sasaki said.
I left work and went home at the usual time.
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